Explore Black History Month at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Look for book displays, resources and programs happening in our branches and community this February and beyond!
Black History Month began as a week-long observance in 1926 founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, an American historian, author, journalist and founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. It was originally observed the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. What began as a celebration of Black accomplishments in history has grown into an annual tradition and prompted widespread discussion on the Black experience.
Featured Artwork: Ashanté Josey. Undefeated, detail. Digital.
Reading Resources and Book Lists
- Children’s Fiction
- Children’s Nonfiction
- Children’s Picture Books
- Children’s Folk & Fairy Tales
- Teen Fiction
- Adult Nonfiction
- CLP Partner Book List
- Reading Black Resistance
- Reading Across Genres: Memoirs & Autobiographies
- Reading Across Genres: Romance
- Resistance & Change in Black Romances
- Fantasy & Science Fiction
- Historical Fiction
- Athlete & Sports Stories
- Short Stories
- Graphic Novels
- Readalikes for Wakanda Forever
- Art & Photography
- Horror Films & Books
More Library Resources
- Seeds of Change: CLP’s 2023 Black History Month Theme
- African American Genealogy Resources
- Accessing the Freedman’s Bureau Records
- Tribute to the Life and Legacy of Vivian Davidson Hewitt
- Music Across Genres: A Black History Month Playlist
Programs & Events
American Sirens: The Incredible True Story of the Black Men Who Became America’s First Paramedics Book Talk: Join us for a discussion with author Kevin Hazzard and Freedom House Paramedics John Moon Mitchell Brown and Bill Raynovich as they discuss the history and importance of the of the Freedom House ambulance service, founded in the Hill District in 1967. Registration strongly encouraged. First 45 registrants will receive copies of the book.
Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse Presents Sculpture Art: Learn, explore and create with Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse and the Library in a sculpture art activity celebrating Black History Month. All upcylced materials will be provided. Recommended for children in grades K-5 and their caregivers.
Art as Self Care and Resistance With Juliandra Jones: Join artist and arts educator Juliandra Jones for this adult workshop on art as self-care.
- CLP-Allegheny, Wednesday, February 8th, 5:30 pm-6:30 pm
- CLP-South Side, Saturday, February 11th, 12 pm-1 pm
- CLP-Homewood, Wednesday, February 15th, 5:30 pm-6:30 pm
- CLP-Sheraden, Tuesday, February 21st, 5:30 pm-6:30 pm
Art as Black Resistance With Cue Perry: This workshop for children in grades K-5 will be led by artist and arts educator Cue Perry and will focus on art as a form of Black resistance throughout history.
- CLP-Woods Run, Wednesday, February 8th, 4:00 pm-5:00 pm
- CLP-Brookline, Tuesday, February 21st, 3:30 pm-4:30 pm
Attack Theater Dance Workshop: Attack Theater’s arts education program connects with students through the power of creative play. Rooted in reflection, investigation and imagination, these programs emphasize creative learning and wellness. At the core of each program, dance and movement support kinesthetic strategies to develop critical thinking, encourage collaboration, strengthen communication and nuture creativity.
Visit our events page to learn more about special programs happening near you this February.
Throughout the month of February, join us for storytime, where we will celebrate Black families and promote Black joy through stories and songs.
Just like the in-person storytimes, February’s Virtual Storytime will celebrate Black Families and promote Black joy.
Visit our events page to find a Storytime near you! Contact your preferred branch to see what activities are offered.
February Kids Club programs will explore several Black History themes through library resources and hands-on activities.
- Ablaze with Color: Black women have long made and continue to create far-reaching impacts on community and culture not only through their art but through their actions and voice. Celebrate the art and lives of these foundational artists by creating your own art in the abstract style of Alma Thomas, just one of the artists kids will learn about.
- Anansi’s Kente Cloth: Kids will learn about traditional Ghanaian cloth and motifs through weaving and loom making. African American history goes beyond American history and has roots in many cultures and communities in Africa. Talking about and celebrating cultures and countries in Africa can help us better understand African American history.
- Pittsburgh Freedom House: Learn about and celebrate the first community based medical service that today’s Emergency Medical Response Service (EMS) is based on. This group of trained paramedics, predominantly made up of Black men, was based in Pittsburgh’s Hill District. Kids will make connections to our city’s Black history and make their own stethoscopes to listen to heart beats, just like the Freedom House Ambulance Crew members.
- Bottle Tops-The Art of El Anatsui: Kids will explore the work of African artist, El Anatsui by making their own metal sculpture art, reflective of El Anatsui’s style. Anatsui’s work often includes indigenous Adinkra symbols and other motifs from his native Ghana. When we explore the culture and history of Black people in other countries, especially one of the 54 countries in Africa, we start to see the global nature of Black history.
- Bold Words from Black Women: Kids will connect social emotional learning to iconic Black women and create their own tissue paper stained glass portraits of changemakers inspired by the book Bold Words from Black Women by Dr. Tamara Pizzoli.
- We Can-Portraits of Power: Celebrate young Black artist, Tyler Gordon, by creating portraits of Black icons in Tyler’s unique style. Tyler Gordon’s journey as an artist began with a school project and now, he is an award-winning artist.
Visit our events page to find a Kids Club near you! Contact your preferred branch to see what activities are offered.
February Teen Time programs will explore several Black History themes through the use of historic photos and videos, and hands-on activities.
- Civil Rights & Contemporary Poster Art: Teens will learn about Black artists and create letterpress, collage-style posters in this program that brings art and history together through the exploration of civil rights freedom movement and contemporary movement posters with a focus on Black Lives.
- Civil Rights Movement Photo Exploration: Explore historical photos from the Civil Rights era using print and online resources to learn about the enormity of the movement. Teens will have a chance to learn to use an online photo editor to bring images together.
- The Birth of Hip-Hop: In this celebration of hip-hop culture, teens will learn about the birth of hip hop via the Black History in Two Minutes series, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and learn to use an online photo editor to create hip-hop-inspired images.
Visit our events page to find a Teen Time near you! Contact your preferred branch to see what activities are offered.
Throughout February, you may also be able to find one or more self-directed activities in your branch’s Teenspace.
- Paint in the Style of a Black Artist: Printouts of multiple artists’ works and paint supplies will be available for you to try your hand at their style.
- 125th Anniversary Library Card Artwork: Celebrate and share the work of local artists Takara Canty, Cue Perry, D.S. Kinsel and Janel Young by sending a note to someone you know on a postcard or greeting card featuring their artwork.
- Brave. Black. First. Puzzle: A Jigsaw Puzzle Celebrating African American Women Who Changed the World (based on the book Brave, Black, First: 50+ African American Women Who Changed the World)
Community Events & Resources
Explore what Pittsburgh has to offer during Black History Month and all year round!
RAD Pass is your ticket to culture in the city. Discover and access free or discounted tickets to regional attractions with your CLP or Allegheny County library card!
Take in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Harlem from February 1-19 at Pittsburgh Public Theater
This exciting adaptation of William Shakespeare’s classic romantic comedy by Pittsburgh Public Theater Resident Director Justin Emeka infuses the familiar tale with Black and African culture and tradition. ” Find Pittsburgh Public Theater on RAD Pass
See American Menu from February 3-19 at New Horizon Theater
It’s May 1968, just after the murder of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. and a month before the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Five Black kitchen workers in a segregated lunch counter are forced to engage in painful self examination brought about by the senseless death of a young boy. Through passionate conversations, these women face the realities of life on the cusp of change. Jammed in a hot, airless room they must battle prejudice, poverty, ignorance and each other as they search for inspiration.”
See Ignite February 16 –17 at New Hazlett Theater
“Hip-hop artist Ys1 (Yusef Shelton Da First) sets fire to the New Hazlett stage with the true story of Little Joseph. This autobiographical concert shows how faith, intention and staying true to yourself can break the cycle of fear and help overcome adversity. With refreshing authenticity and a magnetic stage presence, Ys1 is sure to engage and empower audiences.”
Celebrate the legacy of August Wilson and the opening of his archive at the University of Pittsburgh Library System with a series of events from February 24 – March 3. These events are free and open to the public.
View In Sharp Focus: Charles “Teenie” Harris at the Scaife Gallery at Carnegie Museum of Art
“For more than four decades, Charles “Teenie” Harris photographed the city’s African American community for the Pittsburgh Courier, one of the nation’s most influential black newspapers. This exhibition captures the rich stories and pivotal moments of Pittsburgh’s history through some of the Hill District native’s most iconic images.” You can also view the Teenie Harris Archive online. Find Carnegie Museum of Art on RAD Pass
Check out an upcoming event at the August Wilson African American Cultural Center
Attention Black Filmmakers! The August Wilson African American Cultural Center is accepting submissions for the Black Bottom Film Festival now through August 18, 2023.
Explore Black History Month at the Heinz History Center through special events, guided tours, and exhibitions.
In recognition of Black History Month, the African American Program of the Heinz History Center will present two free programs in February: From Slavery to Freedom Film Series Presents “Torchbearers” and The Black Fives: The Epic Story of Basketball’s Forgotten Era with Claude Johnson.
Listen to the sounds of the Pittsburgh Black Music Festival coming later this year, July 13-17 at Point State Park and Market Square.
“The City of Pittsburgh is a world-renowned hub for Jazz Music and the birthplace of internationally renown Jazz Artist such as: George Benson, Art Blakey, Stanley Turrentine, Billy Eckstine, Lena Horne, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Roger Humphries, Joe Negri, Ahmad Jamal and countless more.” This is a free event.